Friday, July 06, 2012

Commitment from farmers ‘significant’ or too much?

The Government understands that it is asking a lot of farmers wanting to take part in the Carbon Farming Initiative. The commitment asked of farmers is significant, to ensure that credits generated by the scheme meet the strictest global standards, according to parliamentary secretary for climate change, Mark Dreyfus. "Australia comes to this with a very high reputation for scientific integrity, for regulatory integrity. We're expecting that Australian carbon credits will be in world demand for those reasons.” he said. Australian farmers will benefit from having to meet high standards to earn carbon credits. To earn credits for native revegetation projects, for example, that land must be locked up for 100 years.
But will the enthusiastic buyers find any growers willing to take the risk of signing a contract that lasts longer than their lifetime? Will the rules that make CFI Carbon Credits so attractive to buyers have the reverse effect on sellers?
Could it be that locking up land is overkill, especially in the environmental plantings methodology?
1.     The methodology requires a planting density that reaches only 20% ‘crown cover’ at maturity, leaving 80% of the project area grassy vegetation that will need grazing to avoid baring of the soil due to desertification (rank and dead grasses stifle fresh grasses emerging).
2.     The carbon in the understory is not factored into the sequestration equation anyway.
3.     Occasional grazing can reduce fire loads.
4.     The methodology itself makes allowances for occasional grazing from 3 years after establishment.
Carbon Faming is not about locking productive land up. It is about making the land more productive by integrating trees and shrubs into the farm design. A change in practice is more attractive to a farmer if it has a production benefit.
But Mark Dreyfus says there is some good news: farmers will not face financial penalties if the credits they've earned are destroyed by a bushfire or drought. Now you're talking.

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